The line between fact and fiction in politics can be blurry. I'm reminded of that every time I see still another strange quote of Sarah Palin's ("I can see Russia from my house!") that was actually spoken by her talented mimic, Tina Fey.
It's another proof that, as the neurologists tell us, the centers of memory and imagination are closely related in the human brain. Psychologists call it the Misinformation Effect, and there's a lot of it going around. There always is as an election year approaches.
Facts can be elastic things, at least when they're replaced by powerful visual images in the mind. How many moviegoers by now think Brad Pitt guided the Oakland As to their spectacular World Series win in 2002, just as he does in Moneyball? (The As were actually eliminated in the first round of the playoffs that year by the Minnesota Twins. Reality is such a spoilsport.)
Mere facts may prove no match for partisan passions. It hasn't been too long since I saw a letter to the editor presenting a number of left-wing talking points only thinly disguised as innocent questions asked in good faith. The question at the top of the list stuck in my mind because it's one of the more persistent smears directed against the pro-life movement, no matter how many times it's been refuted.
In this version, the myth appeared as (rhetorical) Question No. 1:
"How come pro-life folks don't care enough to adopt and/or support by taxation those children they insist be born?"
The list of questions ended with a dare: "Hard questions? Yes. Who has the guts to answer them?"
Allow me to take apart the assumptions underlying just Question No. 1. For I am allotted only so much space, not that the assertion about pro-lifers' not supporting kids after they're born is very hard to answer. Evidence to the contrary abounds. As in all the help that pro-life groups offer mothers who, despite all the pressures, decide to have their baby instead of an abortion.
There is a whole network of pro-life pregnancy centers in this country committed to supporting mothers and the infants they've chosen to bear. The three largest are Heartbeat International, CareNet and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA). Altogether, they have a total of some 2,300 affiliates serving almost 2 million American women a year. They operate some 350 residential centers for women and children across the country, 22 of them in New York City alone, helping about 2,000 women every year.
The centers provide a variety of services: prenatal care, testing and treatment for STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections), ultrasound examinations, instruction in childbirth and midwifery, nutrition, social work, parenting, and post-abortion counseling. For the idea that abortion leaves no mental scars is another myth of the pro-choice lobby.
Catholics are scarcely alone in this fight for life. In New York City, the Manhattan Bible Church (Bill Devlin, pastor) runs a soup kitchen that has served over a million people since 1973, the year Roe v. Wade was handed down. Its K-through-8 school has enrolled some 90,000 needy students since its founding. Its church families have taken in babies and pregnant women in need of help, including both the drug-addicted and HIV-positive. The church runs a 150-bed drug rehab center and prison ministry on Rikers Island, all without taking a penny from the taxpayers.
These are just some of the examples of the churches and ministries whose devotion to life isn't just lip service. For more such documentation, see "The Lazy Slander of the Pro-Life Cause" in the online journal Public Discourse. (It was reprinted in the Winter-Spring 2011 issue of the Human Life Review.) Yes, Christianity lives.
I hope this begins to answer the "hard" question the letter-writer posed about pro-lifers. When it comes to supporting children (before and after birth) theirs is a record unmatched by pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood, which remains the largest abortion-provider in the country. And it doesn't hesitate to accept federal funding -- and lobby for more.
Planned Parenthood may fly under the banner of "women's health" or "family planning," but it was responsible for 332,278 abortions in this country just in 2009, or one every 95 seconds. That's roughly the population of a city the size of Cincinnati.
Now would be a good time, while Congress is supposed to be looking for ways to control the federal deficit, to cut off Planned Parenthood's water. Such a move would address both of the country's two great deficits: fiscal and moral.